Muhammad (ﷺ) :A Mercy To All The Nations


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Muhammad (ﷺ) :A Mercy To All The Nations

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Muhammad (ﷺ) :A Mercy To All The Nations

  1. 1. Page 1 MUHAMMADMUHAMMADMUHAMMADMUHAMMAD A MercyA MercyA MercyA Mercy To All The NationsTo All The NationsTo All The NationsTo All The Nations
  2. 2. Page 2 CHAPTER 1 ARABIA BEFORE MUHAMMAD “Corruption appeared in the land and the sea on account of what the hands of men had wrought.” [Quran 30: 41] Muhammad, the holy Prophet of Islam, was born and grew to manhood in Arabia, a land at that time considered as beyond redemption, and in something like twenty years not only had he made of the Arabs a people of outstanding excellence both in manner and men, but he had fired them with a zeal that carried them to many lands and climes. Wherever they went they revolutionized thought and life, working a change whereof the results are seen to-day in the greatness of many nations. To appreciate rightly the power of the teachings of the Prophet and the miracle which they have wrought it is necessary to describe the Arabs and Arabia in the days before Islam. The condition of affairs in Arabia, and of the Arabs before the advent of the Prophet Muhammad was calamitous. The whole land was plunged in a sea of ignorance and darkness. Justice and Truth, the two fundamentals of civilized life, were unknown. Morality was at its lowest ebb. Religion was at its lowest depth. The lives of the people were little better than those of beasts, and the finer qualities inherent in man were dead. Some redeeming points there still might be. Hospitality, bravery, generosity, manliness, and tribal fidelity were some of the noble traits in their character; but what were these few virtues in comparison with the general life of corruption and brutality that they were leading? These few good qualities were easily drowned in an extravagance of sin, free and open indulgence in adultery, gambling, drinking, highway robbery, uncleanness, and every kind of abomination. Not only, moreover, were these vices indulged in, but they were actually praised and made the themes of poets’ songs. In place of the One True God, Invisible, Incomprehensible, they worshipped gods and goddesses made of stone. There were about four hundred such deities in all; the belief being that to each one God had delegated the discharge of certain of His functions. For everything which they desired they turned to these idols, invoking their help and blessings and in addition they regarded the sun, the moon, the stars, and the air all as gods, worshipping them and believing them to be controllers of their destinies. These people had fallen so low as even to worship stones, mud, and trees; before any shapely piece of stone on their way they would prostrate themselves. Even men of wealth and fame were considered beings worthy of worship and adoration, while their lives were fettered in vain superstitions. Before going on a journey they would first secure four roughly hewn stones, three to cook on and one to worship; if they were unable to take four, three would suffice,
  3. 3. Page 3 and at a halt, after cooking, they would take out one and worship it before continuing their travel. Their heathenism had reached such a pitch that the Ka’ba, the House of God, which was reconstructed by Abraham for the worship of the One Almighty God, became a depositary for their idols. They divided themselves into clans, and the clans into families, and each clan and family had its own beliefs and customs; and each family had its own idols in the house. In time of sickness and famine they would prostrate themselves before the idols, offering up cattle, grain, and the like in return for their help. But although idolatry had obtained such a firm hold on the Arab in general, there were a few here and there who were frankly atheists who believed in no religion at all and made a mock of the idolaters. There were a few who practised such religion as Christianity and the Jewish faith. The followers of the Saabi religion believed in a book, and in the prophets Sheesh ibn Aadam, and Idrees. They said prayers seven times a day, and did half a month’s fasting in a year. They also believed in the worship of the planets. The followers of the Abrahamic religion were also polytheists, circumcision, sacrifice, and the growing of a beard being among the essentials of their creed. They had their own idols in the Ka’ba, including an image of Abraham and one of his sons Ishmael. The idol of Ishmael had seven arrows in its hand, and each arrow had a different name, and was there for a different purpose. The Jews had also become idolaters, and had their idols in the Ka’ba also. The Christians too had made an idol of the Virgin Mary with the child Jesus in her lap, and that also was placed in the Ka’ba. In fact, all the different religions then prevalent among the Arabs believed in the worship of idols and the Ka’ba was full of them, some belonging only to certain of the big clans, while others were for the worship of all. Hubal was considered the greatest of the idols, and its power extended over the rains, riches, and general good. Dawar was an idol worshipped only by young women. The house of God that had been built for the worship of the One True God had thus become a great temple packed with idols; for the Arabs believed that everything could be obtained through the intercession of idols and that these idols would save their souls and send them to Heaven after death. As for the social condition of the Arabs, it was everywhere as bad as the religious. The various clans and families were always at war with one another. Anger and hatred were their chief characteristics, and revenge their main life force. Fighting and the shedding of blood over trifles were the commonplaces of their existence. They were ignorant of every social principle and did not know what it was to lead a peaceful and settled life. They wandered from place to place with their cattle, halting when and where they chose. A few settled in villages and towns, but wherever they were there was constant fighting and bloodshed. Above all, there was no central government to enforce
  4. 4. Page 4 law and order. The whole of Arabia was divided into little states, and each state or clan was a separate political unit, with its own chief who, whenever he thought proper, would lead it to battle against another clan. There were, indeed, a few provincial governments, but these were too weak to enforce justice. When not fighting, “Wine, Women, and Song” represented the summit of their ambitions, while gambling was their chief intellectual occupation. This was a daily pastime, and the very few who did not indulge in it were objects of derision. As to drink, it was as great a vice as gambling. Intoxicating liquors flowed like water in nearly every household. And there was not a dwelling without its goodly reserve of wine jars. Women were in those days considered as mere chattels—things scarcely human. It was this low esteem in which they were held that established the custom of infanticide in many tribes, it being reckoned a disgrace and ignominy for a man to have a daughter. Those girls who by any chance escaped death at birth were cruelly treated. When they grew up, they were made to work like beasts of burden, and regarded as beings without a soul, feelings, or even emotions. Women were entitled to no share in the property of either father or husband, and in the absence of male issue the property would go to the nearest male relation--- not to a daughter. A man had as many wives as he wished, as well as any number of mistresses. Prostitution was rife among them. Married women were forced to have other lovers beside their own husbands, and women servants were made prostitutes just to earn money for their masters. When a daughter was born, her father would bury her alive or have her killed most cruelly, and often the poor mother herself was made to kill her own daughter. As for education, there was no such thing among the Arabs in those days. Ignorant and superstitious, they believed in all sorts of queer things, such as genii and evil spirits, charms and incantations. They believed that the soul was a special germ that got into the body of a child at birth, and went on growing, leaving the body only after death, when it assumed the form of an owl and hovered over the tomb. Their superstitions knew no bounds; if a bird crossed their path from right to left, they considered it a very bad omen. Some believed there was another life after death, and these would tie a camel to a tomb, and let it starve to death, believing that on the Last Day the deceased would mount on its back and ride to heaven. They had great faith in fortune-tellers and believed all that was told by them. Such, then, was the degrading and most pitiable condition of the Arabs before the coming of Islam. When ignorance and darkness had reached its height, when irreligion had become rampant, and cruelty and oppression lords of the land, then, like day after night, like rain after intense heat, God in His infinite mercy and love for the human race, made Muhammad His Prophet and sent him to lead those astray back to the right path. Like a sun to dispel darkness, a rain to shower blessings, he came
  5. 5. Page 5 and he succeeded in his mission. The Arabs, a fallen nation, wild and uncivilized, steeped in the vilest vices, underwent a change that made them the most learned and most civilized of beings. Polytheism was forgotten, and the Unity of the One and Indissoluble God became their firm belief. They who knew not God were, in a short time, so faithful to Him that they did their best to spread Islam the world over, and they did succeed in spreading that True Light, which the Prophet brought, to many climes and many people. The holy Prophet consolidated the Arabs; from a divided people, they soon became a united nation, each and every individual working together and sympathizing with each other, instead of fighting as before. God in the Quran says: “And remember the favour of God on you when you were [the] enemies [of one another], then He united your hearts, so by His favour you became brethren, and you were on the brink of a pit of fire, then He saved you from it.” [Quran 3: 102] He made the life and the working condition of the slave tolerable, by enforcing the same treatment for him as for a member of the family. The Islamic brotherhood which the teachings of the Prophet brought into being did away with all social inequalities between man and man, and man and woman. He taught them to treat slaves with kindness and love, and made the manumission of a slave a meritorious deed. He insisted that no free person should by force be made a slave, and that those who were already slaves should be treated as members of the family, and granted freedom gradually. The holy Prophet made it an obligation on the part of the Islamic Government to budget annually for the allocation of a certain percentage of the revenues to the purpose of the liberation of the slaves, by paying the ransom from the Government exchequer. The holy Prophet removed all misconceptions about women. He taught the Arabs to regard them as friends and companions, and to be kind and loving to them. He said, “A person who does not show kindness should not expect kindness from God.” He taught them to regard infanticide as abominable and most displeasing to God, and thus it soon came to an end. He had a great regard for the rights of women; since the passing away of the matriarchal form of society women were, for the first time, emancipated by the Prophet. He showed by his example the love, care, and respect that was due to them, and so woman, once deemed the lowest of the low, was raised up to a position of great dignity. As has been shown, all this was achieved by the holy Prophet in face of the greatest difficulties in but a few years. Is this not enough to convince all that he was the greatest of Reformers, and the most perfect of mankind? CHAPTER 2
  6. 6. Page 6 BIRTH (571 A. C.) “Our Lord! And raise up in them an Apostle from among them who shall recite to them Thy communications and teach them the Book and the wisdom and purify then].” [Quran 2: 129] Abraham’s Prayer in the Quran. From time to time, both before and after Abraham, God had raised up Prophets in the world— different prophets for different nations; for in those days the nations dwelt in complete isolation, one from another—modern conveniences of transport and communication being then unknown—but when, in the infinite Wisdom of God, the time was ripe for merging all religious systems into one, under a single and universal brotherhood, He, as promised through the prophecies of the former prophets, raised up the World-Prophet Muhammad. The Quran teaches us that the advent of the World-Prophet was foretold by all the prophets, and in order that people might not be mistaken, it was said that the promised one should bear testimony to the truth of all the prophets, as the following verse of the Quran shows: “And when God made a covenant through the prophets: certainly what I have given you of Book and wisdom —then an apostle comes to you verifying that which is with you, you must believe in him, and you must aid him. . . .” [Quran 3: 80] That the holy Prophet testified to all the previous prophets is shown by the fact that he has made a belief in them an essential of his faiths. The definition of a faithful, accordingly, as given in the Quran, runs as follows: “And who believe in that which had been revealed to you, and that which was revealed before you, and they are sure of the hereafter” [Quran 2:4] The Israelites and the Ishmaelites are from a common progenitor—Abraham. In His promises to Abraham, God has clearly said that from among both Israelites and Ishmaelites prophets would be raised up. The Quran makes mention of this, and the Old Testament also records a promise to the same effect: “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee and make thy name great, and thou shalt be a blessing” (Gen. 12: 2). There is, moreover, a reference in the same book to Ishmael: “And as for Ishmael, I have heard, Behold I have blessed him and will make him faithful, and will multiply him exceedingly.” (Gen. 17: 20) Moses uttered another prophecy from God touching the advent of the Prophet Muhammad: “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put My words into his mouth.” (Deut. 18: 18)
  7. 7. Page 7 Here are two references which apply solely to the Prophet Muhammad, the first: “from among their brethren,” which means that the one Prophet would be raised from among the brethren of the Israelites, i.e. Ishmaelites, and the second: “like unto thee,” which means that he should be a lawgiver like Moses, and there has been no prophet, save only the Prophet Muhammad who has been also a law-giver. Our assertion is further borne out by the conversation between John the Baptist and those who asked him, “Who art thou?” And he confessed, “. . . ‘I am not the Christ,’ and they asked him, ‘What then? Art thou Elias?’ And he said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Art thou that Prophet?’ and he answered, ‘No’“(John 1: 19—21). The reference to “that Prophet” clearly shows that the people were waiting for the advent of three prophets: first, Elias, who they thought would reappear in person; secondly, Jesus; and thirdly, “that prophet.” The third, “that Prophet, clearly points to the holy Prophet of Islam, for the first two, according to the Israelite scriptures, had been fulfilled in the persons of John and Jesus. There are many other prophecies by Israelite prophets, such as David, Solomon, etc., as well as that by Jesus, the last of the Israelites, which runs, “If ye love me, keep my commandments, and I will pray to the Father and He shall give you another comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the spirit of Truth” (John 14:15—17). This and similar verses from the New Testament predict in clear terms the advent of another prophet after Jesus, and the words, “that he may abide with you for ever” indicate that there would be no other prophet after the promised one. This is true only of the holy Prophet Muhammad, for in the Quran he is termed “the last of the Prophets.” Ishmael, the eldest son of Abraham, had twelve sons. One of them, Kedar, settled in the Arabian province of the Hedjaz where his progeny spread, as is borne out even on the authority of the Old Testament. It is also proved that ‘Adnan, to whom the genealogy of the Prophet was traced, was of the offspring of Ishmael. In the ninth generation from Adnan is Natheer ibn Kinana, who founded the dynasty of the Quraysh; and further down is Qusayy, to whom was entrusted the guardianship of the Ka’ba, an office of high honour in Arabia. Thus the dynasty to which the Prophet belonged was one of the highest in honour, respect, and nobility. ‘Abdul Muttaalib, the grandfather of the Prophet, had ten sons, of whom one was ‘Abdullaah, the father of the holy Prophet, and ‘Abdullaah married Aamina, a lady of another reputable family. The holy Prophet never knew or saw his father, for shortly after his parents were married ‘Abdullaah went on a commercial journey to Syria, and on his way back he was taken seriously ill and died at Madeena. Unfortunately, his mother also died when he was only six years old, and so at this tender age he was deprived of the care of both parents.
  8. 8. Page 8 The following table shows the descent of the holy Prophet Muhammad.
  9. 9. Page 9 The holy Prophet was born on a Monday, being the 12th day of Rabee‘ul Awwal (April, 571 A.C.). It was in a vision that his mother received the joyful tidings that she was to give birth to a prophet. When he was born there were the usual signs that indicate that a prophet is born, the most noteworthy of which are: abundant rainfall and the consequent disappearance of famine. Another extraordinary event that took place at the time of his birth was the destruction of an army of Christians, led by the chief of Yemen, who had marched to Mecca to demolish the Ka’ba, so that the magnificent church he had built at his capital San‘aa might become the resort of the pious instead. The whole army, encamped just outside Mecca, was attacked by a most virulent form of smallpox, which caused great havoc and destroyed the major part of the forces. The rest took to flight in utter confusion; as the holy Quran says, “Hast thou not considered how thy Lord dealt with the possessors of the elephant? Did he not cause their war to end in confusion, and sent down birds in flocks (to prey) upon them, casting them against hard stones . . .” [Quran - Chapter: 105] According to the custom of the Arab gentry mothers did not suckle their babies, so the Prophet was handed over to Haleema, a nurse of the tribe of Banu Sa‘ad. Two years later Haleema brought him back to his mother, but Aamina asked her to resume her charge, as Mecca at that time was stricken with an epidemic. Thus he remained in the charge of Haleema until the age of six. Although but a child, those few years spent in rural surroundings did much to mould his character; for the calm atmosphere and natural environment made him realize the presence of a Supreme Being, Who rules over and controls all. So at the age of six, when he returned to his mother, he was well on the road to Prophet- hood. Unfortunately, he did not enjoy the love and care of his mother for long, for soon afterwards she died on her way to Madeena whither she was going to visit the tomb of her husband. Muhammad was then taken care of by his grandfather ‘Abdul Muttaalib, but he died before two years had elapsed. Then at the age of eight his guardianship passed to his uncle Abu Taalib; the uncle and nephew soon became so greatly attached to each other that it became impossible for Abu Taalib to go anywhere, even on a commercial journey, without taking Muhammad with him. People were greatly impressed by his ways and manners, and once while travelling with his uncle, they met a Christian ascetic, Baheera, who, beholding the boy, saw in him the marks of greatness and foretold that one day he would be a prophet. CHAPTER 3 YOUTH, AND FIRST FORTY YEARS OF MUHAMMAD’S LIFE “I have lived a life-time among you before it.” [Quran 10: 16]
  10. 10. Page 10 A notable circumstance touching the youth time of Muhammad is to be found in the fact that although his guardians took the utmost care in his upbringing, the question of education they passed over entirely. This was no fault of theirs and they cannot be blamed for it; for it was not the custom in those days and among those people to educate one’s children, and especially was this true of the upper class. The Quraysh, for example, regarded reading and writing as tasks for menials only. It was, therefore, a great wonder to the world when it came to realize later the enormous depth of learning, scholarship, and philosophy to which Muhammad had obtained. According to the custom of the day, Muhammad learnt business and visited all places with which Arabs had business relations. Even at an early age, his integrity and truthfulness won him fame in Mecca and soon earned him the title of “Al-Ameen” (The Trustworthy). Anyone who had dealings with him in any connection always spoke of him with praise and respect. It is said that once when the Sacred House of Mecca was to he reconstructed, the Quraysh undertook to do the work, but presently a dispute arose as to who should be given the privilege of laying the “Black Stone.” Probably this would have ended in inter-tribal feuds and general bloodshed— -such being the spirit of the age—had not an old man advised them to refer the whole matter to an arbitrator. Whoever, he said, should be the first to appear at the Ka’ba the next day should act as judge and settle the dispute. This was agreed to, and on the morrow, to the satisfaction of all, it was Muhammad who was the first to appear, and all welcomed him with one voice, exclaiming, “Here is the Trustworthy, here is the Trustworthy.” With his great tact and understanding he soon settled the dispute and all ended peacefully. In appearance Muhammad was pleasant yet imposing. He was of medium height and build. He had a large head and a round face; his forehead was broad; eyes dark and full of light with long lashes; his beard was dark and thick; his colour was fair. His whole appearance was comely and attractive. His bearing was dignified, and his manners charming; so charming that he won the hearts of all with whom he came in contact. Visitors were always impressed by his personal charm. Sir William Muir, the Christian critic, in describing the features of Muhammad, was compelled to write: “It is difficult to describe the feelings of those who met and talked with Muhammad. His personality was dignified, his manners were charming, his smile most winning, and his talk possessing every quality with the power to hold a person. Everyone loved and admired him because of these sterling personal qualities.” The world says, “Youth is mad, Youth is blind”; and that is right enough; for youth is both mad and blind. The intoxication of youth tends to throw the restraints of religion and morality to the winds, and indulge in what seems to youth to be pleasure. Laymen apart, even among the most learned and holy there are many who bow to the call of youth, and stray from the right path and from the strict rules of conduct. But when youth has gone, when its maddening urge has flown and old age appears, and the hair is turning grey, then do some awake from their dreams of madness and realize what they have done, and what they have missed; and in order to repent and make up for the good they have lost, become dwellers in either mosque or monastery, and henceforward goodliness and prayer become the
  11. 11. Page 11 occupation of their lives. But the best and strongest character is he who shall pass an unimpeachable and stainless life even amid the temptations and follies of youth. A just man bows his head in reverence, when he studies the youth of the holy Prophet Muhammad. His youth was perfect, sinless, and stainless. I do not think any other such example can be found in the annals of the world. Fourteen hundred years ago, during the youth of Muhammad, ignorance and crime were in Arabia as righteousness and peace elsewhere. The people were debauchees and adulterers, and prostitution was the fashion of the day. Rape and seduction were common things. Wine was the ordinary drink of the people. There were brothels and bars without number; for the Arabs were a proud race, proud even of their sins, and would boast that they led immoral and shameful lives. In such surroundings and among such people to keep one’s youth pure and stainless is an achievement a little short of miraculous. Every day of the youth of Muhammad is displayed before the world in as much detail as are the latter days of his life. There is no one, even his greatest enemy, who can say that the youth of Muhammad was not good and pure. He kept himself aloof from all undesirable people and functions; he had very few friends, being of a reserved and contemplative nature, but the few he had followed his teachings and, later on, became Muslims. Thus while other young men of his age spent their youth in sin, Muhammad was seeking only ways and means to save Arabia from the pitiable state into which it had fallen. When Muhammad was twenty-five, a rich widow Khadeeja by name entrusted him with the management of her business. He was so honest in all his dealings that at last she begged him to marry her. He did not give her an immediate answer, but first went to his uncle Abu Taalib and obtained his consent. When Muhammad married her he was, as has been said, twenty-five and she forty years of age, but it was a very happy union, being blessed with four daughters and one son. Khadeeja was a great help and comfort to Muhammad. He was devoted to her and she willingly gave him her wealth to spend in charity. At the time of his call, he was greatly depressed and weighed down with responsibility, fearing that he would not be able to fulfill the important charge entrusted to him, but she cheered him with such words as “God will never let thee see the humiliation of failure . . . ” and the like. All who came in contact with the Prophet were devoted to him; he showed great kindness and sympathy to the poor and helpless, the orphans and the widow, and would always do his utmost to help them. Slaves loved him; and would rather remain his slaves than accept their freedom. He was kind and loving to all. He abhorred fighting and bloodshed. At the battle of “Fijar” he did nothing more than help his uncle by supplying him with arrows from time to time. From his very childhood he detested idol-worship. During his youth he often went to the cave of Hira and prayed for hours to God to pity the fallen state of the Arabs and show them the way to the right path.
  12. 12. Page 12 Muhammad was forty years of age when the messenger of God came to him to reveal the Word of God, and announce that he was the chosen Prophet of God. ~~~~~~~~ CHAPTER 4 THE DIVINE CALL (611 A. C) “Read in the name of your Lord. He created man from a clot. Read and your Lord is most honourable, Who taught to write with the pen, taught man what he knew not.” [Quran 96: 1- 4] Not long before he attained the age of forty, Muhammad began to see Visions, most of them while in the cave at Hira, and during this time he became more and more reserved and spent many solitary hours in deep meditation. He retired more frequently than ever to the cave of Hira, where he would spend days and nights in prayer and contemplation. On a certain night during the month of Ramadhaan, an angel appeared to him and gave him a scroll, saying, “Read this.” Muhammad said, “I do not know how to read.” The angel then embraced him and again asked him to read. Three times the request was repeated and each time Muhammad cried, “I do not know how to read.” The angel then read out the verses and assured Muhammad that although he was unable to read, if he attempted it in the name of God he would succeed. At this time he was also made aware that he was chosen to be the Reformer of Mankind. It was a staggering responsibility, but Muhammad did not fear nor lose heart. When God commanded Moses to reform a nation, he was not able to do so by himself and in despair cried to God, “Give me a helper.” But the holy Prophet Muhammad despaired not, nor asked for a helper. He relied only on the help of God to assist him in this great task. After the first appearance of the angel in the cave of Hira, when it was made known to Muhammad that he was to be the World- Reformer, some time elapsed before a second visit. Some say it was a period of two or three years, but the version of Ibn ‘Abbaas, who states it was only a short period, is more to be relied on according to historical evidence. No ordinary human being can ever know himself the strange phenomenon of Divine inspiration, during which the whole body is possessed by Divine Power. When the holy Prophet Muhammad first underwent this experience he perspired profusely, his whole body became heavy, his limbs turned icy cold, and he trembled from head to foot. Shivering and shaking he went home, and his wife Khadeeja wrapped him up. When he told her what had happened, she implored him not to fear and assured him, that “God will never let you see the humiliation of failure. Verily you show due regard for blood ties, carry the burden of the infirm, practise virtues that are absolutely extinct, entertain guests and stand by what is righteous in the face of calamities.” Muhammad received Divine inspiration many times, and
  13. 13. Page 13 each time it was accompanied with the same sensations—profuse Perspiration, and heaviness of the whole body. ~~~~~~~~ CHAPTER 5 THE ESSENTIALS OF THE PROPHET-HOOD OF MUHAMMAD “Certainly you have in the Apostle of God an excellent exemplar.” [Quran 33: 21] I believe no one could deny that the spiritual advancement of mankind or the perfection of the human soul has from time immemorial been dependent on the instructions of God through His Prophets, who bring certain qualities, each of the best and perfect in itself. God could have chosen to send angels as instructors, but knowing that for human beings a human being is the best guide and teacher, He raised human beings at different times to Prophet-hood, to preach His word to mankind (The Quran 6: 8-9) Muslims believe that Muhammad is the last Prophet, that is to say, after whom another claimant to Prophet-hood cannot come. This belief is based not only upon the verses of the Quran but also upon actual facts to be met with in the life of the Prophet Muhammad. Teaching and example are essential for a prophet; but for the last Prophet also two further things were most necessary; first that what he teaches should be perfect and complete and sufficient for all time to come, and that he should give a complete code of morals or teachings to preach to the world; secondly, that he himself by his practice should set a perfect example for the guidance of mankind. The Quran speaks in its earlier revelations of the perfect morals of the Prophet. For example, it says, “Most surely you conform (yourself) to sublime morality” [Quran 68: 4] God also says, “So he attained completion, and he is in the highest part of the horizon” (The Quran 53: 6-7) The Hadeeth says, “I was made Prophet to perfect the highest morals.” Two things were needed to perfect the morals, and the Quran says the holy Prophet possessed them. The following will make the statement plainer. It is easy for a man to be lowly and humble when he is poor, but these qualities can only be said to manifest themselves in perfection when he continues humble after he has become great and powerful. Or, let us take the case of charity. A person who is poor can also be charitable, but for the most part only in thought and intention because he has not got the money to give in charity; but to remain charitable after attaining wealth, by spending freely in charities, will mean that he has shown
  14. 14. Page 14 the quality of charitableness to perfection. The same is true of forgiveness; when a man has not power to punish one who harms him, lie is compelled of necessity to overlook the offence and forgive as the safest course; but the completeness of the quality is seen in a person who is powerful and well able to deal harshly with offenders, but forgives freely those who have done their utmost to harm him. There have been cases when a person has been perfect in one moral quality only to such an extent that other qualities have been eclipsed thereby; for example, a man may become so charitable and forgiving as to lose the quality of being just. This height of perfection in the holy Prophet is an accepted fact such as even an enemy cannot deny or refute. The presence of all the moral qualities postulates that a person to display them must have passed through every sort and condition of experience in the course of his life; and not even a hardened critic can deny that such was the case with Muhammad. He was the only Prophet who himself followed all the principles he preached to others. Every ordinance in the Quran he himself obeyed. He is the one and only true example of this rule, that what a man teaches to the world, he must practise himself. We often have to listen to sermons and lectures by persons who have not the faintest intention of practising what they preach. Mere lip-teaching does not prove that a person possesses moral virtues. He must first convert his words into actions as did the holy Prophet, who taught the world patience and forbearance, because he himself faced the hardest trials of life. A child born after the death of his father and losing his mother within the next few years, he spent a childhood of innocence and perfection. At maturity he held all desires of the flesh at bay. From his birth to his death he passed through many difficult ordeals. At every step he was tried, but was never found wanting. When he proclaimed his Mission as Prophet, it proved one of the hardest trials of all. The whole nation turned against him. He was absolutely alone and helpless. The perfection of helplessness is seen in the event known as “Hijra” (Flight), when alone, save for a single friend, he had to flee his native town of Mecca; when he hid in a cave and escaped to Madeena, where his helpers and associates and the Jews entered into treaty relations. Then came the tortuous days of war; on all sides the Arabs gathered to kill him, but in the end he prevailed over them and became their king. In Madeena he was King, Judge, Magistrate, General, Peace-maker and Law- giver, and in all these capacities he was perfect. Again, let me emphasize that the great thing to remember is this, that all his moral qualities are of the highest degree of perfection. He knew not what it was to be avaricious; even his enemies admit that all his life through he had no desire for wealth. It had no value for him. Once the Quraysh offered him all the wealth in the land, but he refused even to consider the offer; and when he became king and the rightful owner of it he cared nothing for it and continued to live the same life of poverty in solitude. The holy Prophet expressed this quality in still greater perfection by living a life of poverty amidst the riches and luxuries of kingship.
  15. 15. Page 15 The quality of forgiveness, too, he expressed in perfection, making no distinction between friend and enemy. When it came to forgiving he forgave all. In the battle of Uhud certain Muslims failed to obey his instructions, with disastrous result, but the holy Prophet did not court-martial or even reprimand them; he simply forgave them. His example of forgiving enemies takes its sublimest form on the occasion of the conquest of Mecca. The Meccans had been his bitterest enemies since the day he was raised to Prophet-hood. They did all in their power to crush Islam, and many times attempted to kill the Prophet, but he, when he entered Mecca as conqueror, forgave the chiefs when presented as captives, and granted a general amnesty. Arabia lay at his feet, and Mecca was at his mercy. He could have beheaded everyone had he wished to and he would have been justified in doing so; for they had been his greatest enemies and most cruel tormentors. But unlike many Hebrew Prophets, who severely punished their enemies for much lesser offences, he freely forgave them. When they were all standing humble before him, awaiting their punishment, he said to them, “There shall be no reproach against you, you are free.” The Arab Chief ‘Utba had been one of the greatest of the offenders and the chief instigator of the cruel persecution to which the Prophet and his companions had been subjected for many years. His daughter, Hinda, was as great an enemy of the Prophet as her father. Once in hatred, she chewed the liver of Hamza, the Prophet’s uncle, when he was slain in battle; later, when she was obliged to come before the Prophet, she covered her face with a veil so that he might not recognize her, but he singled her out at once and forgave her. Abu Sufyaan was another who had done his best to harm the holy Prophet. Abu Sufyaan being afraid to face the Prophet, would send others to intercede for him, but the Prophet bade him have no fear and not only forgave him but declared that anyone who took refuge in his house would be safe. At the conquest of Mecca another enemy of the holy Prophet, Habbar ibn Al-Aswad, who was responsible for the death of the daughter of the Prophet, was about to fly from Mecca to Persia, but knowing the compassionate nature of his enemy he decided to throw himself on his mercy. Approaching the Prophet he confessed his wrongs and prayed for mercy, and the Prophet freely forgave him. These instances stated above, and many others, prove that the holy Prophet expressed the quality of forgiveness to perfection. In Muhammad, the holy Prophet of God, are found to perfection all qualities and morals, and the combination of all qualities and morals. With lowliness and humility he was brave, so brave that, with his companions lying dead round him, he prayed to God to guide the enemy to the right path. The example of justice set by him is equally high. Once there was dispute between a Jew and a Muslim, and on hearing the case he gave the just judgment, which was in favour of the Jew. His reliance on God was such that he never concerned himself about personal safety, but, at the same time, his caution never relaxed, and on the slightest news of trouble he would always send men at once to deal with it. So intense was the love of God that he would spend whole nights standing in prayer
  16. 16. Page 16 before Him; he had the wellbeing of others so much at heart that often he used to do the marketing for the old and feeble. The study of his life reveals that all these qualities and morals were combined in him to the highest degree of perfection, enabling him to become the sole exemplar for all generations to come. ~~~~~~~~ CHAPTER 6 THE FIRST MUSLIMS “And the foremost are the foremost; these are they who are drawn nigh to God.” [Quran 6: 10-11] In the chapter entitled “The Divine Call” I have mentioned how the word of God was first revealed to the holy Prophet. After that revelation, in the cave of Hira, he was sure of his Mission but he did not as yet preach it openly. He taught first among the intimate circle of family and friend, and the one who embraced Islam first was his wife, Khadeeja. She was the first woman to embrace Islam, and there is some controversy as to who was the first man to do so. Imam Abu Haneefa writes: “Among men Abu Bakr, among children ‘Ali, and among women Khadeeja, were the first to embrace Islam.” This is not a satisfactory statement for it differentiates between men, women and children, the question being who was the first man to embrace Islam. The author of the Sirat Halabi writes: “There were three in the history of all religions who did not believe in any other God but the Real God, the first was Hizqiel, who accepted the faith and religion of Moses; the second Habib Najjar, an inhabitant of Antakya who was the first to embrace the religion of Jesus, when he went there to preach; and the third person was ‘Ali, who was the first to embrace Islam at the age of ten.” Tirmithi writes, “Muhammad was made Prophet on Monday, and on Tuesday ‘Ali said his prayers with him.” Some of the prejudiced, who were unwilling that ‘Ali should have this distinction of being the first to embrace Islam, object that as he was a mere child his conversion could hardly be considered complete and valid. This argument is very weak for the validity of an action does not require the maturity of the person acting, as the Quran says, “So they [Moses and his companion] went on until they met a boy; the companion slew him and Moses said, ‘Have you slain an innocent person otherwise than for manslaughter? Certainly you have done an evil thing’” [Quran 18: 74] Jesus Christ was made Prophet in his early childhood and said: “Surely I am a servant of God; He has given me the Book and made me a prophet; and dutiful to my mother, and He has made me blessed wherever I may be, and He has enjoined on me prayer and poor-rate so long as I live” [Quran 19: 30-32]
  17. 17. Page 17 Here we see that people who are destined to be great and worthy are placed with people of rank and dignity, even if they are mere children. This is clearly evident in the case of Jesus Christ, and it must be accepted that ‘Ali was the first Muslim, in spite of his having embraced Islam when in his early teens. Mr. Emile Dermenghem, in his Life of Mahomet (London, 1930), thus describes the conversion of ‘Ali: “One day the young ‘Ali came into the room of Khadeeja unexpectedly and found Mahomet and Khadeeja bowing down and reciting unknown and harmonious words. “‘What are you doing?’ asked the astonished child, ‘and before whom are you bowing down?’ “‘Before God,’ replied Mahomet, ‘before God, whose Prophet I am and Who commands me to call men unto Him. O, son of my uncle, you also, come unto the one God. I desire you to worship the one God without a peer, and adopt the true religion chosen by Him. I request you to deny idols like El Lat and El ‘Ozza who can neither harm nor help their worshippers. Say with me: “‘God is one, “‘And there is not anyone like unto Him. “‘Neither slumber nor sleep seizeth Him; “‘To Him belongeth whatsoever is in heaven, and on earth.’ “‘Never have I heard such words,’ said ‘Ali when he had finished. Their charm and beauty bewitched him; their strangeness dismayed him. “‘I must consult my father,’ he said. This proceeding did not please Mahomet very much, and he asked his young cousin either to do nothing or else to speak with great secrecy to Abu Taalib, and only to him. “The child passed a very troubled night and the next morning announced to Mahomet and Khadeeja his strong desire to follow them. “‘God made me,’ said he, ‘without consulting Abu Taalib. Must I consult him, then, before adoring God?’ “And so ‘Ali, converted in his childhood, never worshipped the idols; they called him: ‘Him whose face was never sullied,’ because he never bowed down before anyone but God.” As has been said, the first woman to have absolute faith in the holy Prophet’s mission and to embrace Islam was his wife Khadeeja. From the time of his very first revelation she had not the slightest doubt of his claim to prophet-hood. She was a consolation and a help to him always, especially in times of extreme depression and perplexity, a never-failing comfort and a pillar of strength. Knowing intimately and thoroughly his excellent qualities she, from the very beginning, was perfectly convinced that he and no other was the one to be chosen by God for the reformation of mankind.
  18. 18. Page 18 I step aside to quote a few lines from Mr. Dermenghem’s The Life of Mahomet (London, 1930), to show the unflinching nature of the belief of his wife Khadeeja. “Mahomet had given up men’s companionship more and more. In the solitudes of Mt. Hira he found greater and greater satisfaction. Spending whole weeks at a time there with a few scanty provisions, his spirit gloried in fasting, in vigils and in the search for a defined idea. He hardly knew whether it was day or night, whether he dreamed or watched. For hours at a time he remained kneeling in the darkness or lying in the sun, or he strode with long steps on the stony tracks. When he walked, it seemed as if voices came out of the rocks; when he struck a stone, it answered him. And the stones everywhere under that fiery sun seemed to greet him as ‘God’s Apostle.’ “On his return the good Khadeeja was troubled to see him so silently elated. Sometimes he appeared to lose all consciousness of what was going on around him and lay inert on the ground, his breathing hardly perceptible. Then he would sleep, his breast rising and falling regularly with peaceful slumber. But his respiration would grow more rapid; he would pant; dream; an enormous human being as huge as the heavens over the earth and covering the whole horizon would then approach, rush towards him with extended arms ready to seize him. . . . Mahomet would wake with a start, his body covered with sweat; Khadeeja would wipe his forehead and question him gently but anxiously in a voice she tried to calm. He would remain silent or evade her questions, or he would answer in words she did not understand. “At the end of six months Mahomet’s body suffered; he grew thin, his step became jerky, his hair and beard unkempt, his eyes strange. He felt hopeless. Had he become one of those madmen such as he had often met—a pathetic demoniac, a hideous plaything of the powers of darkness? Was he one of those poets inspired by a jinn?—for measured phrases often burst unconsciously from his tongue. He felt hopeless; for he had a horror of poets, playthings of every wind, who said what they did not do. “‘I am afraid of becoming mad,’ he decided to say one day to the gentle Khadeeja, when he could no longer bear the weight. ‘I see all the signs of madness in myself. Who would have believed that I would become a poet, or possessed by a jinn? I! By no chance speak of it to anyone.” “Khadeeja wished for his confidence. She hoped and she doubted; but when she was so worried herself, how could she reassure him? But she was a woman made to give consolation and comfort; she possessed the tender firmness of a virtuous wife and a devoted mother and gave this man, younger than herself, the fullest love. In her devotion she was almost subconsciously pleased to find this strong man, her admired husband, weak and ill. How could she help reassuring him? “‘O Abul-Qasim, are you not the ‘am in—for so you are called—the sincere, the trustworthy, the truthful man? How can God allow you to be deceived when you do not deceive? Are you not a pious, sober, charitable, hospitable man? Have you not respected your parents, fed the hungry, clothed the
  19. 19. Page 19 naked, helped the traveller, protected the weak? It is not possible that you are the plaything of lying demons and malicious jinns.’ ‘What, then, is this being who seeks me out again and again? What is this being who has not told me his name and from whom I cannot escape?’ Mahomet was again seized with anguish. He trembled, his face grew red and then pale; his ears hummed, his eyes dilated. A strange presence had intruded itself. “‘There he is! It is he! He is coming. . . . ’ “And yet he was awake and neither asleep nor dreaming and the strange being was approaching. He was there. “Khadeeja had an inspiration: “‘Come to me,’ she said to her husband. ‘Get under my cloak.’ Mahomet did so. He was like a child on his mother’s breast, hunting protection from all the world’s dangers. Khadeeja covered him with her veil, let down her hair; she seated him on her knees, embraced him closely and hid him against her flesh under her clothing and her dark hair. ‘Well?’ she asked. ‘Is he still there?’ “‘I do not see nor feel him any more. He is gone.’ “‘Then he is not a lewd jinn, nor yet a demon; for he respects women’s chastity. It can only be an angel of God.’ “Ramadan came. Mahomet increased his solitary watches in the passes of Mt. Hira. Days passed; the crescent moon grew round, resplendent, then waxed thinner and thinner again. One night Mahomet was asleep in a cave. Suddenly the mysterious being who had visited him before appeared, holding a piece of silk in his hand covered with writing. “Iqr‘a,’ he said to Mahomet: ‘Read.’ “‘I do not know how to read.’ “The being threw himself upon him, cast the silk around his neck tight enough to almost stifle him. But letting it go he said: ‘Read.’ “‘I do not know how to read.’ “The being again threw himself upon Mahomet to stifle him.
  20. 20. Page 20 ‘Read,’ he repeated for the third time. ‘What shall I read?’ “‘Read,’ said the being, letting him go. “‘Read, in the name of thy Lord, Who hath created all things; Who hath created man of congealed blood. Read, by thy most beneficent Lord Who taught the use of the pen; Who teacheth man that which he knoweth not’” (The Quran 96: 1-5) Waraqa, a cousin of Khadeeja, was the next to believe in the holy Prophet. He was a very old man, bedridden and blind. Khadeeja had often heard him speak of the “Promised Prophet” of whose advent Jesus Christ had spoken. When Waraqa heard from Khadeeja of the revelation received by Muhammad in the cave of Hira, he at once proclaimed him the “Promised Prophet.” Unfortunately he died shortly afterwards, during the Cessation period, without having had the opportunity of formally declaring his faith. Abu Bakr, a Meccan, was the next to embrace Islam. The holy Prophet and he were intimate friends long before the holy Prophet received the Divine Call, but no sooner was he made aware of Muhammad’s claim to prophet-hood than he publicly declared that he believed him to be the Prophet of God, and embraced Is]am, thus being among the first men to do so. Zayd ibn Haaritha, a liberated slave of the holy Prophet, was the next. He was deeply attached to the holy Prophet, and when he was first given his freedom and had been told by Muhammad to go back with his father to his own home he refused to do so. Thus we see that the holy Prophet’s wife Khadeeja, his friend Abu Bakr, his cousin ‘Ali, and his liberated slave Zayd, these four, who knew his life most intimately, were the earliest believers and the first to embrace Islam. Abu Bakr, whose faith in the Prophet was as true and sincere as Khadeeja’s, was so profoundly convinced that Muhammad was the promised Prophet that immediately on embracing Islam he started preaching the faith to others. Soon prominent men like ‘Usmaan, Zubayr, ‘Abdur- Rahmaan, Sa‘ad and Talha became Muslims; also Yasir, his wife Sumayya, Bilaal, ‘Abdullaah ibn Mas‘ood, ‘Ammaar ibn Yasir and Khabbaab, who were of humbler position, and Arqam, who later gave his house to the holy Prophet for the purposes of his mission. One by one people began to follow him and within three years there were some forty converts in all. This steady progress of Islam angered and alarmed the Meccans and they did their best to oppose it; but the Muslims, in spite of all opposition, grew rapidly in numbers. As the faith spread, men of position from among the Quraysh became converts too, Hamza, an uncle of the Prophet, among them. He was a man of great importance and proved a pillar of strength to Islam. He had always been fond of Muhammad and the story of his
  21. 21. Page 21 conversion is a remarkable one. It is said that one day Abu Jahl, an uncle of the Prophet, who was bitterly opposed to the teachings of Muhammad, had met him and was ill-treating the Prophet most cruelly. A maid belonging to the house of Hamza, happening to pass by, was shocked to see this and at once reported the matter to her master. When Hamza heard this, deeply attached as he was, he was both grieved and indignant and made up his mind there and then himself to join the new faith, and aid and defend the brave little army of Muslims to the utmost of his powers. Another remarkable conversion of a great man was that of ‘Omar. He was a man of position, greatly esteemed among the Quraysh, but also well known and feared for his uncontrollable temper. From the very beginning he was bitterly against Islam, and as he heard daily that more and more were embracing the new faith, he was so enraged that one day he decided to kill Muhammad, who, he said, was the cause of all the trouble. So taking his sword he made straight for the house of the Prophet. At this time he was unaware that his own sister Fatima and her husband had become Muslims. On his way to the Prophet’s house he met a man who had recently embraced Islam. Seeing the sword in ‘Omar’s hand this man asked him whither he was going. ‘Omar replied, “To kill Muhammad.” The Muslim thereupon informed him that his own sister and brother-in-law had embraced Islam. On hearing this, ‘Omar’s anger knew no bounds, and he decided to deal with his own relations first before putting an end to the Prophet. On reaching the house he heard one of them reciting the Quran, and this to him was the last straw. He entered wild with rage, and seizing his brother- in-law thrashed him unmercifully, while his sister in her efforts to interpose was herself injured. ‘Omar, then snatching the chapters of the Quran, began reading the verses, and soon the truth and beauty of them set him thinking. Seeing him thus pensive the Muslims present took the opportunity of reasoning with him and soon the proud ‘Omar joined the fold of Islam. He proceeded to the house of Arqam where the Prophet and his companions were taking shelter. The Prophet met him at the door and ‘Omar proclaimed his faith to him in these words, “O Apostle of God, I declare faith in God and in His Prophet.” All this time the Muslims were compelled to carry out their religious activities in secret in the house of Arqam; for they were as yet too few in number to face their numerous opponents. But after the conversion of two such important persons as ‘Omar and Hamza they were able with their help to carry on their work publicly, and say their prayers in the sacred house of the Ka’ba. Most of the early converts were from the poor class, except for the few men of wealth and position whom I have just mentioned. These poor people were forced to undergo many hardships; for they had nobody to protect them and no money. The slaves who turned Muslims were put to most awful tortures. Abu Bakr was one of the rich ones who was a great help to Islam at that time; he spent much of his wealth in buying slaves from their cruel masters and setting them free. The hatred of the Quraysh against the holy Prophet and his followers leaped up to its highest point when it was learnt that Hamza and ‘Omar had also embraced Islam, for ‘Omar was the chief of the Banu ‘Adi tribe. Soon afterwards, a wealthy merchant belonging to the important family of Taym ibn
  22. 22. Page 22 Murra embraced Islam. He was a man of clear judgment as well as energetic, honest and amenable, and a great favourite among the people. After his conversion, five others belonging to important families followed in his footsteps. The Prophet and his followers would preach to strangers coming to the city on pilgrimage and on business. But even this, the Quraysh sought to prevent. When people began to arrive in the city they would post themselves at strategic points, and tell the strangers to have nothing to do with Muhammad as he was a magician and not to be trusted. This, in a way, helped the Prophet— for the strangers returning to their homes spread the tales that were told about him, and many came to see and hear the man who risked his life in telling the whole of Arabia to give up the worship of their forefathers and follow the new religion that he preached. ~~~~~~~~ CHAPTER 7 THE ATROCITIES OF THE QURAYSH “And among men is he who says: We believe in God; but when he is persecuted in the way of God, he thinks the persecution of men as the chastisement of God.” [Quran 29: 10] When the holy Prophet began actively to preach Islam, he decided to establish a missionary headquarters, where those who wanted to embrace the faith could be instructed, and where all Muslims could gather together for prayer. He could not preach publicly, as I have already mentioned. Arqam, one of the early converts, gave his house called the “Abode of Arqam,” which was situated at the foot of Safa, for the use of the mission. This house is especially famous in Islam, and is known to this day as “The Abode of Islam.” In it Muhammad preached for over three years, and many people embraced Islam there. After four years, Islam was well known and the subject of much discussion in all parts of Mecca. The Quraysh tried many ways to check it from spreading, and at last decided to resort to force. They were determined to crush the movement at any cost for many reasons. The first and the most natural one was the fear of what usually happens at the advent of a Prophet; how the people rise against him, and God proves that in spite of the power and strength of the people one single, solitary, and friendless man will succeed in establishing Truth and the Word of God. Secondly, the Quraysh thought it would be derogatory to men so proud to change their religion and depart from the ways of their forefathers. Thirdly, Mecca was the greatest temple of Arabia, and the offerings to the idols therein were a source of immense wealth. They feared lest these with the influence and power it brought would be lost. Fourthly, the chiefs of the Quraysh were apprehensive that the new religion would put an end to their prestige and a stop to their luxuries, and generally make impossible their easy and dissipated lives. So the holy Prophet was subjected to every sort of torture and atrocity. Thorns were strewn in his path, stones were thrown at his house, and dirt and rubbish at his body. He was laughed at and hooted, and
  23. 23. Page 23 once when he was at prayer, ‘Uqba ibn Abi Mu’it threw his sheet round his neck and pulled it with such force that the holy Prophet fell on his face. The story of these outrages is a long and sad one. Sir William Muir, in discussing it, writes, “The people of the Quraysh had decided to extinguish this new religion from the face of the earth, and to stop its preachers from carrying on their work. Once the opposition started it gradually developed, and the hatred of the people became fierce.” It was only because of the ancient and peculiar custom of the Arabs that if a man is murdered it would lead to war between the clans of the murdered and the murderer, that they stopped from killing the holy Prophet outright, and also perhaps because they were already tired of war; but all this did not stop them from doing all they could to torture the Prophet and his followers. When the Quraysh discovered that all they did was of no avail, they sent a deputation to Abu Taalib, the chief of the tribe (and also the uncle of Muhammad) to beg him to stop Muhammad from preaching. Abu Taalib sent them away with pacifying words, but they returned again after some time to put their case before him with greater force. The second deputation decided Abu Taalib, and he sent for the Prophet and asked him to refrain from preaching, pointing out that he could not fight the whole tribe single-handed. At this time, on account of the persistent persecution, the followers of Islam were few and weak, yet Muhammad spoke to his uncle in these words, “I would not care even if I had to Jay down my life for God, but if you are afraid of your own weakness then leave me alone; my God is enough to help me. Even if these people were to give me the moon in one hand and the sun in the other, it would not stop me from doing my duty.” This answer impressed and moved Abu Taalib so much that, marvelling at the courage, perseverance, and patience of Muhammad, Abu Taalib told him to go and do his duty and promised that he, Abu Taalib, would help him as much as he was able. When the Quraysh found that this also had failed, they sent ‘Utba, an orator, to the holy Prophet who said: “O son of my brother, thou art distinguished by thy qualities and thy descent. Now thou hast sown division among our people and cast dissension in our families; thou denouncest our gods and goddesses; thou dost tax our ancestors with impiety. We have a proposition to make to thee; think well if it will not suit thee to accept it.”“Speak, O ‘Utba,” said the Prophet, “I listen, O son of my brother.” Commenced ‘Utba, “If thou wishest to acquire riches by this affair, we will collect a fortune larger than is possessed by any of us; if thou desirest honours and dignity, we shall make thee our chief, and shall not do a thing without thee; if thou desirest dominion, we shall make thee our king; and if the spirit which possesses thee cannot be overpowered, we will bring the doctors and give them riches till they cure thee.” And when he had done, “Hast thou finished, O father of Waleed?” asked the Prophet. “Yes,” replied ‘Utba. “Then listen to me.”“I listen,” he said. “In the name of the most Merciful God,” commenced the Prophet,
  24. 24. Page 24 “… this is a revelation from the most Merciful: a book, the verses whereof are distinctly explained, an Arabic Quran, for the instruction of people who understand; bearing good tidings, and denouncing threats: but the greater part of them turn aside, and hearken not thereto. And they say, ‘Our hearts are veiled from the doctrine to which thou invitest us; and there is a deafness in our ears, and a curtain between us and thee: wherefore act thou as thou shalt think fit; for we shall act according to our own sentiments.’ Say, ‘Verily I am only a man like you. It is revealed unto me that your God is one God: wherefore direct your way straight unto Him; and ask pardon of him for what is past.’ And woe be to the idolaters, who give not the appointed alms, and believe not in the life to come. But as to those who believe and work righteousness, they shall receive an everlasting reward” [Quran 41: 1-8] When the Prophet finished this recitation, he said to ‘Utba, “Thou hast heard, now take the course which seemeth best to thee.” ‘Utba returned and told the Quraysh that it would be best to leave him to his devices, pointing out that it would be an occasion of pride if the Prophet were to succeed in his mission, “for,” he said, “he belongs to our tribe, and if he fails we attain our object.” But they refused to listen to his advice. When they found that every attempt of theirs had failed they decided that each tribe should persecute in every way the Muslims of its clan, and hence starts a tale which is too painful to be told in full. Although ‘Usmaan was a grown-up and quite independent person, yet because he was a follower of Islam, his uncle tortured him by tying him with ropes and beating him. ‘Abdullaah was unmercifully beaten in the premises of the Ka’ba itself, and other followers were beaten and tortured whenever possible. Even more cruel and ghastly were the tortures meted out to the poor slaves who were the followers of the holy Prophet. Bilaal, the slave of Umayya ibn Khalaf, was forced to lie down on the hot sands of the desert on his back with his face to the scorching sun and a heavy stone on the top of him, or else to be bound and dragged through the streets of the city. “You remain in the scorching sun till you are dead or you abjure Islam,” his master would say. As Bilaal lay, half-stifled under the heavy weight of the stone, he would only say, “One God, One.” This lasted for days until e was ransomed by Abu Bakr and set free. Zunnira, the slave girl of Abu Jahl, was blinded, and many others were similarly treated. Abu Jahl was responsible, it is said, for the death of Sumayya, the mother of ‘Ammaar ibn Yasir, whom he caused to be killed in a manner unspeakably awful. Compare these most obnoxious and cruel deeds with the courage and patience of Muhammad and his followers, and you will realize the powerful force that was in Islam, and gave them the strength to fight all the forces of the earth. These atrocities never caused one Muslim so much as even to waver. “His life,” writes Ameer ‘Ali in The Spirit of Islam, “is the noblest record of a work nobly and faithfully performed. He infused vitality into a dormant people; he consolidated a congeries of warring tribes into
  25. 25. Page 25 a nation inspired into action with the hope of everlasting life; he concentrated into a focus all the fragmentary and broken lights which had ever fallen on the heart of man.” A Christian historian says, “The preachings and example of the holy Prophet imbibed that religiousness in his followers which was not found in the early followers of Christ. When Christ was led to the cross his followers fled and left him to die all alone, but, on the contrary, in the case of the Prophet of Arabia, his followers gathered round him whenever he was threatened, and were willing to lay down their lives for him.” The rapid growth in the numbers eager to embrace the new faith still further enhanced the alarm and consternation of the Quraysh and they decided on organized and systematic persecution, which grew so fierce and relentless that the Prophet was obliged to advise the Muslims to migrate. ~~~~~~~~ CHAPTER 8 THE EXILE TO ABYSSINIA (615 A. C) “And those who fly for God’s sake after they are oppressed, We will most certainly give them a good abode in the world.”[Quran 56:41] In the fifth year of the Prophet-hood (615 A. C.) the holy Prophet had perforce to allow his followers to migrate, because he could not bear to see them cruelly tortured without being able to protect themselves. The place of refuge selected was Abyssinia, because the Prophet had heard of the righteousness, of the tolerance, and hospitality of its king, and a party of Muslims consisting of eleven men and four women left in secrecy, with no hope of ever being able to return to their beloved motherland. All were disheartened; for to leave their native land was, to them, the greatest calamity possible; but their faith in God kept them resolute. Most of these belonged to the well-to-do, rich, and influential families, which shows that even for such Mecca was not safe. As to the poor and the slaves, they had neither the means nor the opportunity to migrate. On leaving Mecca, the emigrants travelled as far as Jeddah on foot, whence they took ship. In the meantime, the Quraysh had learnt of this and at once sent a strong detachment to capture them and bring them back, but fortunately for the exiles the pursuers reached the port after they had sailed. These people had a peaceful life in Abyssinia. They were neither molested nor ill-treated in any way by the Christian King Negus, and the tidings of their good reception in a foreign land induced more in Mecca to migrate. The Quraysh, of course, could not tolerate this—for to them it foretold defeat—and in consequence sent a deputation to the king to demand the fugitives back. To facilitate the
  26. 26. Page 26 accomplishment of their purpose they sent valuable presents to be given to the courtiers, and those who had the ear of the king. The deputation, which was headed by ‘Abdullaah ibn Rabee‘a, in due course reached Abyssinia,— and, by distributing the presents lavishly, found themselves in the presence of the Negus, to whom they also presented costly gifts, and begged that the offenders should be handed over to them. But the king declined to do that until he had heard the case for the other side. So the next day the Muslims in Abyssinia were sent for and the Negus inquired of them what they had to say to the demand of the deputation. Then one of the Muslims, Ja‘afar ibn Abi Taalib, rose and addressed the king thus: “O King! We were an ignorant people given to idolatry. We used to eat corpses even of animals that died a natural death, and to do all sorts of evil and unclean things. We never made good our obligations to our relations, and we ill-treated our neighbours. The strong among us would grow fat on the blood of the weak, until at last God raised up Muhammad from among us to reform us by showing us the path of righteousness. He is well known to us. We know him to be most noble, truthful, and righteous. He called us to the worship of God, and persuaded us to give up idolatry and stone worship. He enjoined on us to tell the truth, to have love for our kith and kin, to fulfill our promises, and to do good to others, teaching us to shun everything that is bad, and to cease from bloodshed. He forbade all other indecent things—telling lies, robbing and cheating orphans and widows, and bearing false witness. He taught us to keep the chastity of women sacred. So we believed in him, we followed him, and acted up to his teachings so far as in us lay. Thereupon these men began to torture us, thinking that thus we might be induced to give up our new faith and go back to idolatry. When their cruelties exceeded all bounds we came to seek peace and shelter in your country, where we trust we shall come to no harm.” Thereupon the Negus wished to hear the Quran, and Ja‘afar recited the chapter entitled “Maryam.” After this he refused to hand over the exiles to the deputation. So far foiled in their attempts they played a mean trick, and, obtaining audience of the king, told him that these Muslims held views about Jesus Christ repugnant to the king. They had thought of this plan to prejudice the king against the Muslims. The Negus sent for them again, and this time they were genuinely afraid that the deputation would succeed in effecting their extradition; for they thought that the replies that they might have would offend the king. The Negus asked them point-blank what they thought about Jesus Christ; and these truthful people, not caring for the consequences, boldly replied that they believed Jesus to be only the Prophet of God, and not the Son of God. The Negus admired this courage of theirs and entirely refused to hand them over to the deputationists, who returned in confusion to Mecca. While the rest of the Muslims were seeking safety in far-off lands, the Prophet stuck to his post amidst every insult and outrage. The Quraysh came to him again, offering him the riches of the land, to which the Prophet replied, “I am neither desirous of riches nor am I fond of power and kingship. I am sent by God to give you glad tidings. I give you His message, and if you accept it, He will reward you both in this and the other world, but if you refuse, I leave God to judge between you and me.” They then mocked at him, scoffed him, and went away. They demanded of him impossible things to prove his Prophet-hood. It was, in fact, the old story. The followers of Jesus Christ had insisted Upon his
  27. 27. Page 27 performing miracles. As someone has remarked: “The immediate disciples of Jesus were always misunderstanding him and his work. Wanting him to call down, fire from heaven; wanting him to declare himself the King of the Jews . . . ; wanting him to show them the Father, to make God visible to their eyes; wanting him to do, and wanting to do themselves, anything and everything that was incompatible with His great plan. This was how they treated him until the end. When that came they all forsook him and fled.” Jesus Christ always replied to them that it was evil to seek for a sign, and that, therefore, no sign should be given them. Similarly, the opponents of Muhammad wanted signs. The Prophet was asked to prove his mission. Why could he not perform miracles like Moses and Jesus? Why could he not change the hills of Safa to gold? Why not make the Book itself; of which he talked so much, fall down from heaven? Why not show them this so-called angel who came to speak with him? Why not make the dead speak? He should be able to move a mountain! “You would do well to ask God, with whom you are on such good terms, to loosen the grip of these mountains stifling our town so disastrously,” the Quraysh sniggered. “Or it would be enough to make a beautiful spring, purer than Zamzam, gush forth; for we really lack water. And as prophets can foretell the future you might as well advise about the approaching price of goods. Cannot your God disclose which articles will rise in price? We should like to know these things in order to regulate our trade and speculate with certainty.” To such as would ask for miracles the holy Prophet Muhammad would reply: “I am able neither to procure advantage unto myself; nor to avert harm from me, but as God pleaseth. If I knew the secrets of God, I should enjoy abundance of good, neither should evil befall me. I am nothing but a warner and the giver of good news to a people who believe” [Quran 7: 188]. “I am no more than a man like you” (The Quran 18: 110). The followers of Muhammad differed from those of Jesus in this that they contented themselves with the moral evidences of Muhammad’s Mission. They gathered round this friendless preacher and sacrificed their all for him. I have just said that the Prophet was left with those who were not able to migrate behind in Mecca, while the Quraysh intensified their campaign of torture. Many and various were the ways they adopted to stem the rising tide of the new faith. It was at this time that by Divine revelation (The Quran 15:94, and 26: 214), the Prophet was ordered by God to proclaim God’s message to the world, and he had to begin preaching in public. He climbed Mount Safa one day and called out to all the Quraysh gathered there, “Have you ever heard me tell a lie?” With one voice they replied that they had not. Upon which the Prophet said, “If I tell you that there is hidden behind this mountain a large army ready to attack you, would you believe me?”“Certainly,” they all replied, “for we have never heard you tell a lie.” Then the Prophet gave them the message of God, and exhorted them to give up idolatry, shun all kinds of evil, and to follow the path of righteousness.
  28. 28. Page 28 He continued to say: “Well! I now tell you important news. O Banu ‘Abdu Manaf, O Banu Taym, O Banu Makhzum, O Banu Asad . . . O assembled Qurayshites, redeem your own souls, for I can do nothing for you in God’s presence… Listen to what He commanded me to tell you . . Abu Lahab, the Prophet’s uncle, then rose and cried: “May you be cursed for the rest of your life! Why gather us together for trifles like this?” Muhammad, disconcerted, looked at his uncle without speaking. His face grew red and then pale; his eyes twitched; he could not breathe. Holding out his hand towards his assailant, he spoke, but it was really the angel of wrath speaking for him: “The hands of Abu Lahab shall perish, and he shall perish; His riches shall not profit him, neither that which he hath gained, He shall go down to be burned into flaming fire.” [Quran, chapter 110] This meeting made them offensive and insulting, but the Prophet was undeterred and went on delivering his messages; and more hearts warmed to his teaching and embraced Islam. This infuriated the Quraysh still further, and, when the news of the failure of the deputation to the Negus of Abyssinia came to add fuel to this fire, they decided to kill the Prophet. So they went again to Abu Taalib, this time with a handsome youth whom they wanted Abu Taalib to adopt and bring up, and give them, in return, the Prophet to be put to death. Abu Taalib declined to listen to such a ludicrous proposal, whereupon the Quraysh decided to extend a system of persecution to the whole of the Banu Haashim family. The first they promulgated was a kind of social ban that stopped inter-marriage and commercial relations. An agreement to this effect was drawn up and hung in the Ka’ba. On learning of this the Banu Haashim moved to the place known as Shi’b, but the Quraysh saw to it that the blockade was enforced. When someone only remotely related wanted to supply provisions the Quraysh offered obstruction, in which Abu Jahl, himself a Banu Haashim, played the most cruel part. The whole family cheerfully suffered this ostracism for the sake of the Prophet, which they would never have done had they had no respect for him. During the ban the preaching was confined to the banned, and the Prophet took full advantage of this. Only during the days of pilgrimage, when bloodshed was sacrilegious, the Prophet would come out and preach to the people assembled from all sides. After some time the more gentle-hearted among the Quraysh began to object to the prolonged ban, and five of them finally decided to remove it, which they did, first by tearing into shreds the scroll hung in the Ka’ba. They then went to Shi’b and brought the Haashimites out, and sent them to their homes, nobody having the courage to stop them. The ban had lasted for three years. Immediately after this Abu Taalib, who had been such a good uncle, of over eighty years of age, and brave Supporter, passed away, and shortly afterwards the Prophet’s faithful wife and greatest help, Khadeeja, passed away too. In Islamic history this year is known as ‘Aam Al-Huzn, i.e. “The Year of Grief.”
  29. 29. Page 29 With the loss of these two powerful and great supporters the Prophet lost the two who were the greatest check and restraint to the cruelties of the Quraysh. As we shall see, the events following will show that the Prophet had still greater difficulties to face. In fact, these two deaths ushered in a new era of troubles. The following chapter will more than ever prove our claim that it was only through his conviction in the truth of his mission and his absolute faith in God that the Prophet was able to brave all obstacles. “His was not the communion with God,” says Syed Ameer ‘Ali, in his Spirit of Islam, “of those egoists who bury themselves in deserts or forests, and live a life of quietude for themselves alone. His was the hard struggle of the man who is led onward by a nobler destiny towards the liberation of his race from the bondage of idolatry.” CHAPTER 9 THE MECCAN PERIOD BEFORE THE HEGIRA “And surely they purposed to scare thee from the land that they might expel thee from it.” [Quran I7:76] So long as the Prophet had his uncle, Abu Taalib, and his wife, Khadeeja, to back him, the onslaughts of the Quraysh were not so severe, because these two, by reason of their influence and standing, acted as a check upon the activities of that body. But when they died this restraint was removed, and the difficulties which faced the Prophet became greater than ever. As already mentioned, it was the threshold of a new era of persecution. Soon after this event, when the Prophet was going out, somebody from behind threw a handful of dust on him. On another occasion, even when the Prophet was within the sacred precincts of the Ka’ba, one ‘Uqba, at the instigation of Abu Jahl, threw dust at him. But these and like incidents did not deter him from his mission. He could have migrated, as did some others, to Abyssinia, but he chose to remain behind and fulfill faithfully the task imposed on him by God. He had that absolute faith in God which gave him the conviction that whatever be the vicissitudes of the way, the end would be glorious. He felt that those who were foremost in obstructing his path would, in time, be the first to carry his message far and wide; and he knew that those who were now bent upon taking his life would one day be ready and eager to shed their blood for him. So he was not disheartened nor dejected, but thought it best to give a little respite to the Meccans by diverting his energies to other quarters. It was not that he did so because he was baffled by the stubbornness of the Quraysh; for he was never at a loss even in moments of greater danger. Therefore, the holy Prophet chose to turn his attention to Taaif a place three miles from Mecca, whither he repaired with Zayd ibn Haaritha, and invited the people to embrace Islam. But, like the Meccans, the people of Taaif were not destined to embrace Islam at the first invitation. I think that any other man, however good, holy, and sincere, would have given up the task in despair as impossible, but the holy Prophet had so firm a faith in God and His cause that lie was never disconsolate. He hoped and still
  30. 30. Page 30 hoped that success would be his, and that the greater the obstacles the more splendid would be the triumph. He was, therefore, greatly embittered when he found that the people of Taaif not only refused to hear him but absolutely repudiated his teaching and himself. With hope still in his heart, he approached an important personage of Taaif, and revealed to him the Word of God; but he, too, turned a deaf ear, and later on caused the people to jeer at him in the public thoroughfares. One day they lined the streets, and as he passed pelted him with stones. This went on for three long miles. Yet bleeding and exhausted he marched on until he entered the garden of ‘Utba ibn Rabee‘a, a nobleman of Mecca, where he found refuge and prayed to God thus in the shelter of the trees: “O my God, I come to Thee alone to tell my troubles, Thou art the Most Merciful, and the Best Protector. I seek Thy shelter; grant it to me and peace to others.”‘Utba, who was in the garden at this time, seeing the Prophet was filled with pity at his condition, sent him grapes by his Christian slave ‘Addas. Stretching his hands to receive the grapes, the Prophet uttered these words, “In the name of God.” The slave, surprised at this, asked the meaning of the phrase, and being informed, at once embraced Islam. ‘Utba, who was looking on, warned the slave that it might lead to persecution, but he remained staunch. After resting in this garden for some time, the Prophet proceeded towards Mecca, and halting at a place called Nakhla remained there awhile. The next halt he made at the cave Hira, whence he sent word to Mut’im ibn ‘Adi that he desired to return to Mecca, and would do so if he agreed to grant him protection. Mut’im, though an Unbeliever, was a gentleman who not only agreed to do as he was desired, but called his sons, and with them, all armed to the teeth, went to the Ka’ba, Where they remained on guard till the Prophet had finished his obligations there. The journey to Taaif is an important event in the life of the Prophet; for it speaks in unequivocal terms both of his spiritual greatness and of his faith in God. Sir William Muir writes of it, “In Mahomet’s journey to Taaif his greatness is amply seen. A single man, whose own people not only looked down upon him but had expelled him, leaves the city in the cause of God, and goes to a place of unbelievers, like Jonah, and calls them to embrace Islam; which shows that he had absolute faith in his mission.” Soon after his return to Mecca came the days of pilgrimage, and the holy Prophet called on each of the clan coming from afar to perform the pilgrimage, and expounded to them the message of Islam. The Quraysh, ever ready to obstruct, so contrived by reason of their influence that none of the outsiders paid much attention to the Prophet. The consequence was that whenever he approached any tribe it contemptuously rejected him. Only two clans treated him with any respect. One said that they liked Islam but dared not give up the religion and beliefs of their forefathers, while the second promised to embrace Islam if the Prophet would agree to give them a share in the kingdom which he would realize. This event, trifling though it certainly is, yet seems to show that most of the clans and people, in their hearts, believed in the ultimate success of the Prophet’s undertaking. To the condition as to sharing his kingdom, the Prophet replied, “It depends on God to bestow a kingdom and on whomsoever He likes; therefore I could not and would not promise what is not in my power.” If personal aggrandizement had
  31. 31. Page 31 been his purpose, as some purblind critics would have us believe, nothing would have prevented the Prophet from winning not one clan only but practically all the clans by the promise of shares in what was presently to be gained. The fact is that the achievement of temporal power was not his aim, as I shall further show in the Madeena period, the events of which amply prove that the Prophet had no desire for worldly gains. Had not his own people, the Quraysh themselves, already offered him the riches of the whole of Arabia? Tufayl ibn ‘Amr, the chief of a clan, came one day to Mecca. The Meccans, to forestall the Prophet, went to him and told him that he had come at a time when Muhammad from among them was causing a great deal of confusion and disruption by means of sorcery and magic arts, and that, therefore, to avoid being mixed up in it, it would be well for him not to listen to anything Muhammad might have to say. Tufayl says that he believed the Quraysh, and was determined to be on his guard, but that one day when passing the mosque he saw the Prophet offering prayer. This, says Tufayl, impressed him so much that he decided to listen to what this man had to say, thinking that if it seemed to be trumpery he would of course have nothing further to do with it or him. With this in view he approached the Prophet, and asked him to tell him his views. Whereupon the Prophet recited to him verses from the Quran, and spoke of the theory of the Unity of God. This convinced Tufayl that the Prophet had told him the truth, and he embraced Islam. Later, when returning to his clan, he begged the Prophet to pray for him, so that he might succeed in turning the members of his tribe to Islam. On his return, however, he converted only two, his wife and his father, the rest remaining obdurate. Baffled at this he returned to the Prophet and thus addressed him, “O Apostle of God, my tribesmen have insulted me, and rejected the faith I offered. Pray that they all may be cursed.” The Prophet raised his hand, and said, “My God, guide the tribe of Daus.” This incident alone would place him on a pedestal of a height to which no Prophet has attained, for we see in the lives of them that they all, even including the Prince of Peace— Jesus Christ—cursed and invoked the wrath of God on those who ill-treated them. Not even fig-trees escaped. This, then, was the state of affairs. The Prophet was surrounded on all sides by hostile forces. Every attempt of his was frustrated by the Quraysh. The only thing that kept him resolute was the conviction that in the end the cause of God must triumph. By patience, forbearance, courage, and preaching he had tried to win them over, but had so far failed in his attempts to bring about any great measure of success. Yet he did not abate his efforts, and once, preaching, he happened to meet a few men of the Khazraj clan of Madeena. Having ascertained their antecedents, he preached to them the message of God and invited them to embrace Islam. Now these people knew of and were expecting “that Prophet” as prophesied in the Scriptures. And when they heard and grasped the beauty of the achings of the holy Prophet they believed that without doubt he was “that Prophet” (St. John I: 19-21), and none other, and six of them there and then accepted Islam. The pledge they took was this: “We will not associate anything with God; we will not steal, nor commit adultery nor any other offence such as fornication,
  32. 32. Page 32 the killing of children, calumny, and slander; we will obey the Prophet in all that is right, and will be faithful to him.” On their return to Madeena much enthusiasm prevailed there over the new faith, and the Prophet’s name became a household word. The result was that a great number embraced Islam, a dozen of them going to Mecca in the following year to perform the pilgrimage. But to the Prophet the whole year was one of constant anxiety as to the fate of the converts and their efforts. So when the next year came he was seen anxiously going about looking for someone from Madeena to give him the news. At last at ‘Aqaba he found twelve men who received him with respect and honour. These twelve included some who had been converted the previous year. They gave all the news to the Prophet. When returning, they begged him to send with them someone who would enable them to preach and spread the faith. The Prophet sent Mus‘ab ibn ‘Umayr, who made his headquarters with As‘ad ibn Zuraarah and engaged himself in the task assigned him. God was kinder to the Muslims here; and soon every house was talking about Islam, and a great number from among the Aus and Khazraj became converts. In other cases whole clans embraced Islam in a day, and here the history of Islam would have been altogether different had not the Jews taken alarm at its rapid success. Turning from the encouraging news of Madeena to the happenings at Mecca, we see that the whole year was one of great distress, trouble, and misfortune. The persecutions of the Quraysh became more severe and more ingeniously varied, and fuel was added to their enmity at every piece of good news from Madeena. Save only for one very remarkable thing the whole year was disastrous. But it was during this year that the Prophet experienced his “Nocturnal Ascension,” or what is called in Arabic Mi‘araaj. There is some controversy as to whether this Ascension was bodily, or an occurrence in a vision. The Quran speaks of it thus: “Praise be to Him who carried His servant by night from the sacred temple to the temple which is more remote, whose precincts We have blessed, that We might show Him some of Our signs; for He is the Hearing and the Seeing” [Quran 17:1] Mr. Stanley Lane-Poole, in speaking of this, writes, “It is still a grand vision full of glorious imagery, fraught with deep meaning” (Introduction to the Selections from the Koran). The story of the Ascension is that in the night the Angel Gabriel came to the Prophet and beckoned him to follow him to the presence of God. The Prophet in rapture went with the Angel, and passed through the seven Heavens, where in each Heaven he met the prophets that had been raised up before him. When he reached the seventh Heaven Gabriel left him, saying that he could go no farther. Then the Prophet continued on his way alone until he reached and felt the nearness of God. It was here that the duty of prayer five times in the day was enjoined on the followers of the Prophet. He was also shown Heaven
  33. 33. Page 33 and Hell, and when he returned to his room, his bed which he had left was still warm. I, for one, see no difficulty in believing this to be a corporeal experience. The interval which elapsed between this and the next pilgrimage was the most critical period of the Prophet’s mission, and a few words of praise escape even from the pen of Sir William Muir, the hostile critic of Muhammad: “Mahomet thus holding his people at bay, waiting in the still expectation of victory, to outward appearance defenseless and with his little band, as it were, in the lion’s mouth, yet trusting in His Almighty power Whose messenger he believed himself to be, resolute and unmoved . . . presents a spectacle of sublimity paralleled only in the sacred records by such scenes as that of the Prophet of Israel, when he complained to his Master, ‘I, even I only, am left.’ Next year brought seventy-two of the men of Madeena to the pilgrimage. The Prophet met them one night at the same place as in the time past, but now he was accompanied by his uncle ‘Abbaas, who spoke to the Madeenites thus: “You know the position Muhammad occupies among us. So far we have been protecting him, and he is quite safe. Now you wish him to accompany you to your place. If you think you can fulfill the pledge, and are able to guard him, you are at liberty to undertake the responsibility; but if you think that you cannot, then give him up from now. Do not mistake! You are welcome to take him with you, but only on condition you guard him successfully.” The Madeenites, who became known as Ansaars, agreed to swear allegiance on any terms, and a fresh oath was taken. However, in spite of all precautions taken that the Quraysh might not discover this meeting, they were spied on, and by the next morning the thing was known. The Quraysh went to the camp to ascertain the truth about this meeting. But it so happened that the Madeenites with whom they conversed were unbelievers. They knew nothing about the meeting. As they denied the whole thing the Quraysh returned quite satisfied. Nevertheless their fears were roused again. But as the Ansaars had left for Madeena they could do nothing. They only succeeded in seizing and torturing one of them who was left behind. It was fortunate that he had a rich friend in Madeena who was able to rescue him from the fury of the Quraysh. By this time the persecution had reached its height, and all known measures of torture and obstruction were pertinaciously meted out to the Muslims. The Prophet, fearing that the situation might culminate in a general massacre, advised his followers to seek immediate safety in Madeena. This city was till then known by the name of Yathrib. Under perfect secrecy the Muslim families in twos and threes left the place and travelled to Madeena, where they were warmly received. After some time the whole city began to have a look of emptiness, and ‘Utba ibn Rabee‘a, at sight of the empty houses which were once full of life, said, “Every dwelling place, even if it has long been blessed, will one day become a prey to unhappiness and misery. And all this is the work of one among us who has scattered us, and ruined our affairs.” At last all had left without any mishap, and the Prophet was alone with the devoted ‘Ali and the faithful Abu Bakr. Here, again, we see the absolute faith which the
  34. 34. Page 34 Prophet had in God. The Meccans’ enmity was daily growing more bitter. Their aim was frankly to kill him, yet among these deadly foes he remained behind, after having sent away all those who could have protected him. He was not careful for his own safety; he knew that God who had entrusted him with His work would never allow him to be killed before its fulfillment. But he was most solicitous about the safety of others, and dreaded any kind of bloodshed that might cast a blot on the accomplishment of his task. How unlike Jesus if the Gospel writers are correct! “Think not that I have come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law”. (Matt. 10: 34, 35) The holy Prophet of his own advent says, “I am come as a mercy to the worlds,” and the Quran affirms it (21:107). If personal safety had been his aim, he could have gone on to Madeena and none of the Muslims would have objected to it, but he remained, and let those whose safety was his chief consideration go and find shelter. The Meccans, thus baffled in all their attempts, decided to put an end to the Prophet by surrounding his house by night and killing him early in the morning when it was his custom to come out to say his prayers. The Prophet knew what was coming and was ready for it; for the Divine Revelation had that day told him of the plot of the Quraysh and ordered him to leave for Madeena. So he had arranged with Abu Bakr to meet him at a certain distance from Mecca. How the Prophet managed to escape from the clutches of these hungry wolves will be told in the next chapter; but I should like once again to point out to my readers that the motive power in all the Prophet’s ways was his conviction of the righteousness of his cause, which was that of God. It was a conviction pursued through resolute action that ultimately ended in his success. All prophets have had to face hardships, snubs, taunts, and rebukes, but those suffered by the Prophet of Arabia were more than any. We hear Jesus Christ crying out, “Eli, Eli, lama Sabachthani” (O my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?) But the Prophet of Islam in greater danger, yet never in despair, spoke to God, “O my God, to Thee I complain of the feebleness of my strength and my lack of resourcefulness. Thou art Most Merciful of all the merciful. Thou art the Lord of the weak. To whom art Thou to entrust me? To a foe who is deadly or to a friend? Not in the least do I care for anything except that I may have Thy protection. In Thee I seek shelter. May it never be that I should incur Thy wrath, or that Thou shouldst be angry with me. There is no strength, no power except that which we get through Thee.” This of itself speaks volumes and this alone should be sufficient to make the critics refrain from malicious slander against such a personality. I respect all the prophets, and I believe in them, but most of all I admire and follow Muhammad; for my conscience and knowledge tell me that all that other prophets had taught has now become useless —“The old order changeth, yielding place to new.” CHAPTER 10 THE HEGIRA (THE FLIGHT)